Draw Biases at Galway and Glorious Goodwood?

It's the eve of the two concurrent midsummer 'G' Festivals, Glorious Goodwood (as was. did you notice how inglorious the weather was once the name changed to the Qatar Goodwood Festival? Surely not coincidence!) on the rolling Sussex Downs, and the opening day of Galway's marathon week-long session in the west or Ireland. To emerge victorious from festival meetings at such quintessentially quirky configurations as these requires more than a 'mere' understanding of the form. Preparation for those serious about the week will start with an awareness of the layouts of the circuits and the implications on race shape.

Draw is rarely as simple - and occasionally not as complicated - as the pundits will tell you in their one line summaries. Let's review the courses.

These are Goodwood's helter-skelter pistes:

If you're confused, you'll not be alone. There is a tight right-hand loop, and a straight of a little shy of half a mile from which point the run in is pretty much all downhill - having been largely uphill to the turn.

Goodwood is a front-runner's track for a couple of reasons. Firstly, when horses get to the turn into the straight, they tend to fan wide, giving up ground, just at the moment the pacemaking railer is stealing a length or two. Secondly, horses held up for a later run often get caught in a pocket, with the far rail of the home straight cambering away from the grandstands.

Indeed, only one horse with an actual draw (i.e. number of stalls from the rail, after accounting for non-runners) higher than 13 in a mile handicap has managed to win at Goodwood since 2009. 107 tried. [Laa Rayb, the 2009 Totesport Mile winner, had an advertised draw of 15, but in fact broke 13 from the rail due to two non-runners inside him; it was Inside Story, from stall 16 of 16, who overcame the near impossible two months prior to Laa Rayb's more famous, but marginally less challenging, exploits].

The place to be, to a lesser or greater degree, is low and front rank, from seven furlongs to a mile. And yet... over nine furlongs, the bias shifts to high drawn horses who are waited with.

Wait. What?! How can the whole draw/pace bias be shifted on its head?

A theory, and only that, is that at this rarely raced intermediate distance - neither a mile nor a mile and a quarter - that starts with a stiff uphill climb, milers race too freely and run out of juice while ten furlong horses get outpaced before staying on late. As convoluted as it sounds, it may just be credible!

In handicaps over ten furlongs, in fields of 14+ runners (the race type and field size used for all of the above commentary), there seems little to no bias. Here they travel uphill for slightly longer, then take the outer loop - with its sharp top bend - before freewheeling down five furlongs or so of home straight. There is more time for jockeys to manouevre their horses to where they want them, and it seems a fairer track.

Most of the rain forecast has now been deposited and the going remains good, good to firm in places, so the draw data above ought to largely hold up...

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Meanwhile, across the Irish Sea in Galway, there is a race for every racehorse. The programme covers the whole gamut from two year old maidens to exposed handicap chasers. Of course, we'll focus our attention on the flat handicaps. The layout is a little more straightforward here: a little, though not a lot...

Shaped like a diamond, features of the mile and a quarter Galway oval are sharp turns, undulations, and a stiff uphill quarter-mile run to the finish line. There is a shortish run from the seven furlong start to the first of two bends, both of which require wider drawn runners to either take back and wait or risk conceding ground on the turns.

Here is a snapshot of how draw and pace impacts the ability of horses to make the frame in Galway 14+ runner seven furlong handicaps.Low strongly favoured over seven furlongs at Galway - handicaps, 14+ runners

Low strongly favoured over seven furlongs at Galway - handicaps, 14+ runners

And take a look at the draw and run style in combination for some real takeaways:

Correlation between draw and place chance; more pronounced, however, is the link between run style and post position

Correlation between draw and place chance; more pronounced, however, is the link between run style and post position

The first chart shows a fair linear correlation between stall position and ability to make the frame; but it is the heat map which interests more.

This is showing Actual vs Expected (see A/E in the dropdown top right). As you'll see on the right hand side, horses that can get to the front outperform market expectation regardless of stall position. We then have a gradation of colour from dark green (led) through amber (low mid div and middle prominent) to red (pretty much everything else). Except...

Look at the bottom left square - horses draw high and held up. On a reasonable sample of 66 runners (seven wins, 13 places) these waited-with types have fared a lot better than the betting public expected. This is most likely due to a perception that their draw cannot be overcome, which inflates the available odds. And, when there is too much pace on the front end, those ridden more patiently (and having to travel less wide due to the strung out nature of fields in such a context) can skulk through to pick up the pieces, granted the necessary fortune in running.

Also noteworthy is the lamentable performance of low drawn hold up horses. Such runners are 0 from 30, three places, in 14+ runner handicaps here since 2009. Those who race mid-pack are 1 from 85, 12 places (14% place rate), and can also generally be discounted.

Meanwhile, over a mile and half a furlong, the main note regards pace and hold up horses. The slow starters tend to be too late finishers, collectively recording a lamentable six wins from 216 runs in handicap fields of 14+. As you can see, it doesn't matter where they're berthed either. Alongside the 2.77% win strike rate is a 13% place record, so the message is clear: look elsewhere.

Horses which led, or were held up, were either exposed to battle too early or delivered too late, and are worth avoiding. Luck from mid-pack is needed over 1m 1/2f

Horses which were held up were generally delivered too late, and are worth avoiding. Luck from mid-pack is needed over 1m 1/2f

Keep these specific pointers in mind and you'll have a leg up on the vast majority of punters at next week's 'G' Festivals. And if you want this kind of intel for all flat courses, distances, goings, field sizes and race types, there is only one place to get it: Geegeez Gold's Draw Analyser Tool. If you're not a Gold subscriber, you can find out more about Draw Analyser, and the rest of our form book and tool kit, here.

Good luck!

Matt

Gold Upgrades are LIVE…

We are this week introducing some exciting new features to Gold. As always, we anticipate that there might be a few early teething problems but, with your help and forbearance, we'll have everything bedded in by the end of the week, ready for the big races (King George, Goodwood, Galway) that follow.

So what are the changes? Good question, and I'm glad you asked...

There are three main areas that will be brought on stream during this week, as follows:

Choosing the right races to play

Racecard Filters

I don't know if you've noticed but there seems to be quite a lot of racing these days. Even race-to-race punters have their work cut out trying to keep tabs with the plethora of punting puzzles placed before them/us. So we thought - and it's thanks to Rory Delargy for the suggestion - we'd introduce some filters to help you cut to the chase, or the all weather sprint handicap, or whichever type of race you're particularly interested in.

Here's how they look:

New racecard filters will display only the races you are interested in

New racecard filters will display only the races you are interested in

If you focus on sprint handicaps, just change the 'to' distance dropdown to 6f (or 7f or wherever your 'sprint' cutoff is) and ping the hcap switch on the right hand end. Voila! Sprint handicaps only. Only want the good stuff? No problem, change the 'to' dropdown under class to 3 (or 2 or 1) and presto, the good stuff.

Changed your mind and want all of it? There's a reset link top right. Not interested in all of this newfangled convolution? Click 'hide filters' and they'll be gone forever. Or at least until you click 'show filters'.

I appreciate these filters don't cover every eventuality: for instance, we could have differentiated for NH race type, or by age eligibility, or added presets for 'sprints', 'staying chases' and so on. But, you know, you can't please all the people all the time. Hopefully this is at least a step in the right direction, and perhaps just the ticket.

Settings are remembered, so if you only ever look at such races, they can be all you ever see in Geegeez Gold. Naturally, the power is entirely with you to flesh the shortlist out, or to abandon it altogether.

And, importantly I think, the default is that the filters are hidden apart from the link to show them. Many users won't want such functionality and we don't feel the traditional presentation is especially broken, so in that regard we'll not try to fix it for those already happy. If you, like me, are a tinkerer, however, hit the show filters link and muck about a bit!

Racecard Views

Hitherto, we've had two views of the world: a full (i.e. traditional) breakdown by meeting, and a compact version, with tiles containing the race times. We've slightly tweaked them for the purposes of the filters, and also added a third view, by time. That one looks like this:

Racecards by time, with filters applied

Racecards by time, with filters applied

 

In  the example above, I've filitered by Class (1-5), by runners (8+) and by distance (5f-7f). I've also selected handicaps only. And hot diggity, there's my shortlist of three races - from a longlist of 42! - to go at. Uncluttered, no time investment to get there, just simply what you need without distraction.

 

Course Info

There is one small but useful change on the main cards, which is the addition of links to 'Course Info' on the right side of the meeting title:

Course Info links appear to the right for all UK racecourses - Irish courses coming soon

Course Info links appear to the right for all UK racecourses - Irish courses coming soon

 

And the actual info pages look like this:

 

Quite useful, hopefully.

 

Hide the odds

One other thing on views. Actually, on no views. We've added an option to hide the odds from the cards for those who like to form their opinions 'blind' to the market, as requested by Neil O'Connor. It's a really good way of not being influenced by other people and focusing on your own work; and I'd actually recommend to anyone with the time that reviewing one race a day in this manner will improve your judgement enormously.

Here's the option, found under Options on My Geegeez (which is found in the top right of the main website menu bar):

Remember to click UPDATE after making changes!

Remember to click UPDATE after making changes!

 

The cards then look like this:

No right side odds column. Odds also removed from Instant Expert, Pace, and Odds tabs. Reinstate from My Geegeez

No right side odds column. Odds also removed from Instant Expert, Pace, and Odds tabs. Reinstate from My Geegeez

Odds are also hidden on Instant Expert, Pace, and Odds tabs. They can be reinstated from the My Geegeez options.

 

Draw on Instant Expert

One more small change on the cards, this time to Instant Expert, where we've added in a draw column - it was requested by at least half a dozen users, so no names but thank you for the suggestion! That's pretty handy when you've established a probable draw bias and want to see which horses are otherwise best suited to conditions.

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For example, there seems to be a low bias over six on fast ground at Catterick. In the 5.10 race, all the horses best suited to conditions are drawn high. With plenty of pace low, could this race be set for an upset?

A new draw column - Dr - has been introduced to Instant Expert

A new draw column - Dr - has been introduced to Instant Expert

OK, what else?

 

Report Tweaks: Deeper Insights

Reports are still reports, the data remains exactly the same, but... we've added a bell and a whistle.

Historical performance

The bell is a little ^ dropdown on the left hand side which, when clicked, shows the line-by-line historical performance for a given report entry. Here's an example taken from the one year view on the Trainer Jockey Combo report today.

Clicking the ^ (blue box, left side) reveals the historical performance data in the larger blue box below. Clicking anywhere in the actual R O'Brien-Chris Hayes row reveals their runner(s) today (green boxes). Simple, and even more illuminating than our reports already were!

Historical performance data can be viewed inside certain reports as of this week

Historical performance data can be viewed inside certain reports as of this week

 

This feature is available on the following reports:

  • Trainer Statistics
  • Jockey Statistics
  • Trainer/Jockey Combination Statistics
  • Trainer Handicap 1st Run [Code]
  • Trainer Change
  • Trainer 2yo 1st Start
  • Sire Snippets
  • Trainer Snippets

 

Export to csv

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed the other tweak, the aforementioned whistle. It is the ability to drop any chosen sub-report (e.g. TJ Combo 1 Year view) into a spreadsheet for further manipulation. Here's an example of how that looks:

Gold users can now export report data to csv for further inspection

Gold users can now export report data to csv for further inspection

The left side of the data (columns A-K) show the overall performance on the report (in this case, Trainer/Jockey Combo), and the right side (columns L-V) shows details relating to the qualifiers for that given entity (e.g. that trainer and jockey combination, in this example).

And what of the third part of this release? Perhaps we've saved the best for last...

 

QT Angles: Could this permanently change the game for you?

This piece of work has been difficult, and I don't think we're fully there yet; but we are in sufficiently good shape to let you have at it if you so wish. QT stands for Query Tool and it's our rudimentary analysis tool. I say 'rudimentary', because there are more extensive options out there, like horseracebase.com for example, which is excellent.

But I wanted to bring a user's work into his or her racecard display, front and centre. And that's where QT Angles comes in. In time, it could be the game changer. It's actually a three part piece, which starts - naturally enough - in the Query Tool. Once you've researched an angle - simple example below - you can save it as an Angle.

Step 1 - Research angle:

Step 2 - Save to ANGLES:

Choose a name, and click 'Add Angle'. To view upcoming runners, click 'View Runners'.

Once you are happy with a query, save it by adding a name and clicking Add Angle. View upcoming runners with the View Runners button.

Once you are happy with a query, save it by adding a name and clicking Add Angle. View upcoming runners with the View Runners button.

 

Step 3 - Check out all your Angle runners in the QT Angles report:

View your daily qualifiers in the QT Angles report

View your daily qualifiers in the QT Angles report

 

Step 4a - Check 'em out on the racecard (below is a work in progress).

Step 4b - Forgot what the Angle name means? It happens, that's why if you hover over the angle we'll remind you:

 

It's all very cool, and nearly there. We're going to do something which is largely frowned upon - normally for good reason - and introduce this in 'beta'. That means we know it's imperfect at this stage, but it is close enough to where we want it to allow you to play. More importantly, we need your feedback to iron out any remaining wrinkles. So do have a play if it's your kind of thing.

**

These items will be rolling out over the next couple of days, so don't panic if you're a Gold user and can't see them right away. I will make an announcement on twitter - follow @geegeez_uk - when they've landed.

USER GUIDE

I make no apology for the 'shouty' headline. Over the past few years, I've personally invested weeks of effort into creating a well referenced and comprehensive user guide for Geegeez Gold. It now runs to 99 pages. Importantly, it has a list of contents in the front from which you should very quickly be able to find the bit you need.

Please please PLEASE look in there first before asking your question.

If you don't, my customer service - which will always guide you to the relevant page - may occasionally be inflected with language betraying my exasperation! Geegeez is the best racing community in our lands precisely because we give you the wherewithal to support yourselves further than anyone else, and trust in your ability to do that.

THE LATEST VERSION (v1.7) CAN BE DOWNLOADED HERE. If you're reading this page later than July 2018, do check My Geegeez for a potentially more current version.

I don't believe in spoon-feeding, and I know you (mostly) don't want/need that. We're all about empowerment, through data and through support documentation and videos. On the latter point, I'll be doing some more videos, but my voice is suffering along with just about every other part of me just now, so I'm not exactly sure when. Very soon is my aim.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy this next instalment of Geegeez Gold.

Matt

p.s. if you're not a Gold'er and never have been, you can take a £1 month trial here. Former Gold subscribers may re-subscribe through the same link. Good luck!

**

27th July Update

A quick update as at 9am on 27th July. The following are now live:

- Racecard menu filters
- Racecard 'by time' view option
- Draw on Instant Expert
- Option to hide odds on cards
- New style reports for Trainer Stats, Jockey Stats, TJ Combo, HC1, 2yo 1st Start, Trainer Change, Trainer Snippets, Sire Snippets
- QT Angles in Query Tool
- QT Angles report

We have a few known issues, as follows:
- Selecting 'show filters' on racecard menu page defaults the view to 'by time'. Will be changed to 'by meeting'
- The new reports don't currently have an odds column for the qualifying runners
- Selecting 'fractional odds' on My Geegeez displays decimal odds. (So does selecting 'decimal odds'!)
- We've still to put live the new Trainer and Sire Snippets reports
- We've still to put live the QT Angles inline in the racecards
- Odds are missing from the QT Angles report
- We've still to switch over the Report Angles functionality to pull from the new reports

These last two will not be addressed this side of Goodwood. We have a nice stable version of the site just now, so let's not push our luck! I really hope you enjoy, and find utility, in these recent additions.

If you find anything else, please do let us know. Thanks!

Nursery Nuggets: Betting in 2yo Handicaps

Introduction

On 5th July the first of more than two hundred nurseries - 2yo handicaps -  programmed for 2018 was staged, at Haydock Park. They are a feature of the second half of the calendar year and, due to the unexposed nature of many of the runners, have often been considered off limits to large swathes of punters.

But nursery handicaps are just like any other group of races: they have distinct characteristics which require a primary focus in certain key areas. Happily, there are plenty of data on which to chew and from which to attempt to draw meaningful inferences.

In this post, I'm going to focus on nurseries since 2014 - four years' worth - and in the UK only. I'll exclude the five races already run in 2018 at time of writing, so we have complete years from 2014 to 2017.

During that time 8618 runners contested 972 races, none of which culminated in a dead heat. There are therefore 972 winners in the sample. Average field size can quickly be calculated as 8.67, meaning plenty of opportunities for each way punters (609 of the 972 races had eight or more runners). Let us try to determine some characteristics which separate the winners from much of the rest of their fields. To do that we'll start with an old adage I heard in my formative punting years, but first some context...

 

"Back the top weight in 2yo handicaps"

I don't know who first coined this, or why. It is predicated on good sense inasmuch as horses tend to win handicap races in descending order of weight rank. That is, the highest weighted horse wins most often, the second highest weighted horse wins next most often, and so on. But nothing so straightforward was ever missed by the market, meaning backing top weights in handicaps will send you skint quicker than an afternoon playing find the lady on a grubby street corner.

Ignoring those races - amateur riders and the like - where horses are asked to carry in excess of ten stone (the pattern is the same), the below shows the effect of weight carried on win percent in all flat handicaps in UK between 2014 and 2017.

Win strike rate in UK flat handicaps, 2014 to 2017, by weight carried

Win strike rate in UK flat handicaps, 2014 to 2017, by weight carried

 

That is what one might call a pretty robust correlation. More weight equals a greater chance of winning. But here's how that chart looks when expressed as return on investment at starting price...

Return of investment at SP in UK flat handicaps 2014-17, by weight carried

Return on investment at SP in UK flat handicaps 2014-17, by weight carried

 

What this basically tells us is that, ignoring the most lightly weighted horses, there is a vague consistency in losses down to around 8-04 (eight stone four pounds). In other words, although more weight equates to more winners, from a betting perspective it amounts to similar losses almost regardless of the equine's impost.

[In the image above, I hovered over a data point merely to illustrate that further intel can be gleaned from these charts; there is no specific relevance of highlighting the 9-13 group of horses].

The above preamble is intended as context for what follows, namely a similar perspective on nursery handicaps. This is how the diffusion of weight affects a horse's chance of winning in such races:

UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17, performance by weight carried [max 9-07]

In the image this time, I've included one of the variables on the left hand side, so you can see I've truncated the weight range at 9-07. This is because there are a handful of runners which carried more than that, some of which won at 100% (i.e. one from one), thus skewing the line.

We can see the trend generally follows the 'all age' flat handicaps superset. Below is the impact of weight on ROI in nursery handicaps, and as can be seen it offers a far less clear picture:

ROI by weight in UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17

ROI by weight in UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17

 

Not only do lower weighted horses win less often, they also lose more cash. Meanwhile, at the top end of the weight spectrum, we have a couple of spikes either side of nine stone that creep comfortably north of break even. Of course, in the general sense it's not especially helpful because there's no reason why horses carrying 9-01 should be more profitable than those carrying 9-00: it's just a quirk of the data.

But there is something of an ROI cliff at around the eight stone mark, and horses carrying less weight than that in nurseries can generally be treated with contempt. The reality is that many of them are simply not good enough to ever win such a race, perhaps any race.

Getting back to our "back top weights in nursery handicaps" starting point, the next chart shows win strike rate and return on investment (SP) by weight rank:

Win percent and ROI by weight rank, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17

Win percent and ROI by weight rank, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-17

 

Ignoring the obvious outlier (rank #19) with its big priced winner, the blue bars show how win strike rate diminishes as we drop down the weights; and the orange bars show how one would have lost less by sticking to the higher weighted runners.

As interesting as this may (or may not) be, it is academic for those of us looking to butter our bread. As with absolute weight, so weight rank confirms that one will lose money more slowly rather than win money following higher rated, and therefore weighted, horses.

 

The value of experience in nursery performance

All juveniles intending to run in nursery handicaps must have either won their first two races or run at least three times. In both cases, the lack of racecourse evidence and/or experience can lead to horses improving significantly as they strengthen up and get the hang of things. And, yes, as they are presented with a test for which they might have been bred.

We can examine the bearing this has on nursery handicaps by looking at performance by number of career runs. Here, received wisdom says that a horse's best chance of winning may be when stepping into handicap company for the first time. But the data do not bear that out:

 

Nursery handicap debutants (0) win at a rate of 10.77%, whereas those having their fourth nursery start or more win 13.1% of the time. Those with intermediate levels of experience win incrementally more. There is then a correlation between amount of handicap experience and an increased win chance. But what of profitability?

 

Here, an interesting picture begins to emerge, although still somewhat ambiguous. Looking at exchange prices, we can see that not only are those with more nursery experience more likely to win but, unlike those carrying bigger weights, they are also profitable to follow (at exchange prices).

Greater experience in nursery handicaps should be considered a plus for a horse.

 

The virtue of ratings

Although there are occasional blind spots in the public consciousness such as, arguably, the benefit of experience in nurseries, a better way to get an edge is to create or derive some information not available to the masses. That could be a system, methodology or a set of ratings.

Geegeez Gold publishes Peter May's 'SR' ratings under license and they reveal some interesting things in the context of nursery handicaps. This next chart shows nursery win rate by SR rating rank:

Win strike rate by SR rank, UK nursery handicaps 2014-17

Win strike rate by SR rank, UK nursery handicaps 2014-17

 

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The top rated horse in nursery handicaps in the four year study period won 18.44% of the time for an SP profit of - drumroll please - 0.95 points! While nobody ever went skint taking a profit, an ROI of 0.1% is more for your institutional investors than us profit-minded adrenaline junkies.

But it is a pretty good starting point to look at thing like race distance, weight, going, field size, market rank and class. One needs to be a little careful not to fit the story around the data, but it might be reasonable to assume that shorter distances - and therefore more consistently truly run races - would fare better from a rating perspective (when that rating has both a speed and form element within it). Likewise, perhaps bigger fields should yield better results for the same reason. And, based on earlier conclusions, those carrying more weight may be expected to at least win more often if not show a profit. Finally, perhaps ratings will manifest themselves as a marketable differentiator of class.

SR and Race Distance

Starting with race distance, we get some credence to the 'shorter distances are better' perception, as follows:

Top-rated SR, by race distance, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-2017

Top-rated SR, by race distance, UK nursery handicaps, 2014-2017

 

The pure sprinters at five furlongs have won almost one in four when top-rated, and have been profitable to back blindly to boot. Indeed, taking all sprint race distances - which I generally classify as seven furlongs or shorter - we see a pleasing hit rate, supported by a solid place strike rate, and a solid ROI:

Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
708 137 288 19.4 40.7 69.66 1.64 9.84 1.02 1.73

 

SR and Weight Carried

Next we can see the distribution of top rated nursery runners by weight carried. Top weight in such races is generally allocated 9-07, and it is interesting (though not altogether surprising) to note the strong coincidence of top weight - which equates to top official rating - and top SR rating.

Distribution of top-rated SR nursery runners, by weight, UK 2014-2017

Distribution of top-rated SR nursery runners, by weight, UK 2014-2017

 

But what of profitability? Here, an interesting anomaly emerges:

Impact of weight carried on top-rated SR horses, UK nursery handicaps 2014-2017

Impact of weight carried on top-rated SR horses, UK nursery handicaps 2014-2017

 

Those 9-07 horses, with their confluence of top public and private ratings, are notably unprofitable to follow. My assumption for this relates to the public element - that is, officially top-rated - and to the aforementioned 'back top weights in nursery handicaps' mantra espoused by so many for so long.

What is more interesting is that immediately below the top rated/top weighted, there is a full stone range in the weights where backing top SR runners yields both a high strike rate and an SP profit. Nevertheless, I'm not entirely comfortable with discounting the top weights: the pursuit of sustainable profit is rooted in sensible logical analysis. Conveniently discounting strands that don't fit is a surefire way to secure disappointing outcomes thereafter!

 

SR and Going

I struggled with this one a fair bit when I saw the output. Why? Because there is a correlation in the data that looks plausible. But I just cannot find a way to explain it. Here's what I mean:

Top SR in UK nurseries, 2014 to 2017, by going

Top SR in UK nurseries, 2014 to 2017, by going

The firm ground category consists of six runners, of which none won (as you can see from the above), but five were placed! Good to firm and good ground have produced slightly lower win strike rates than slower surfaces but the place strike rates are broadly comparable, leading to my discomfort in 'conveniently' excluding faster turf.

Lawns on the soft side of good or slower, and all weather surfaces, have been highly profitable. I will leave it to the reader to attempt to justify quick turf runner excommunication...

 

SR and field size

What of field size? My hypothesis is that bigger fields, and therefore more reliably run races, should yield better results, in terms of profit if not strike rate (there obviously being more horses to beat in the latter case). The data don't really support the hypothesis, however:

Runners Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
2-5 114 39 59 34.21 51.75 5.98 -4.84 5.25 1.15 1.53
6-8 326 68 142 20.86 43.56 6.87 -29.74 2.11 1.06 1.47
9-12 364 51 135 14.01 37.09 -6.90 -56.51 -1.90 0.84 1.44
13+ 118 12 33 10.17 27.97 -5.00 -10.37 -4.24 0.84 1.46

 

We would of course expect strike rate to diminish as the number of runners increases; but the theory of more truly run races leading to better results for top SR horses holds little water, notwithstanding that all runner groups are within fine margins of break even one side or the other. In short, there's little of positive or negative utility in field size.

 

SR and class

My premise with regards to class is that the ratings may fare better in better class races; the rationale is that in such races, where many unexposed recent winners or good grade placers lock horns, the winner may be underestimated by the market but not by a private handicap (which is, in essence, what any set of 'unofficial' ratings are).

This time the theory does seem to stand a test.

 

Class Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
2 91 16 37 17.58 40.66 28.08 36.91 30.86 1.25 1.73
3 77 19 32 24.68 41.56 11.17 -3.20 14.51 1.18 1.77
4 195 42 83 21.54 42.56 3.28 -23.84 1.68 1.02 1.53
5 291 52 113 17.87 38.83 -40.20 -78.02 -13.81 0.96 1.57
6 268 41 104 15.3 38.81 -1.38 -33.31 -0.51 0.84 1.63

 

Without wanting to get too unequivocal, there are some strong looking patterns. Actual versus Expected, a measure of the value proposition (more info here), slides in a linear manner from best class to worst, with Class 2 to 4 offering degrees of positive expectation.

In profit terms, all bar Class 5 have made a surplus at exchange odds, and even the 40 point-losing at SP Class 5 fares close to even at exchange prices. A focus on better races looks a beneficial means of deploying the Peter May SR figures in nurseries.

 

SR and the market

There are so many ways to slice and dice the dataset, and one more is to overlay market information: odds and / or odds rank.

Odds Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
Odds on 20 14 16 70 80 3.79 2.50 18.95 1.18 3.78
Evs to 2/1 100 39 62 39 62 -1.41 -16.39 -1.41 1 2.78
85/40 to 7/2 200 59 109 29.5 54.5 32.07 13.87 16.04 1.15 2.37
4/1 to 6/1 237 32 88 13.5 37.13 -48.50 -100.73 -20.46 0.8 1.25
13/2 to 10/1 213 15 61 7.04 28.64 -77.00 -118.82 -36.15 0.64 0.66
11/1 to 18/1 112 9 27 8.04 24.11 20.00 16.00 17.86 1.16 0.8
20/1 + 62 4 11 6.45 17.74 65.00 85.25 104.84 1.7 0.73

 

This is quite interesting, there appear to be three distinct areas: a profitable and high strike rate top of the market; an under-performing mid-market, in both profit and strike rate terms; and a surprisingly robust 'long tail' for those who can suffer losing runs in the pursuit of big winners.

The thirteen winners priced at 11/1 or bigger SP paid an additional 109.94 points at Betfair SP. Even taking out the 50/1 scorer (95 BSP), Celestine Abbey, still leaves 64.94 extra units of profit at BSP. But anyway, if you're backing the rags, why would you exclude the best of them?!

 

Conclusions / Pulling it all together

From the beginning of July to the end of the calendar year, there is a nursery handicap - or two, or three - almost every day. Knowing how to play the odds specifically for such races is an edge most punters don't bother to look for; and it is one where a few rules of thumb may help separate out a lot of the losing chaff.

The first relates to weight: those horses carrying eight stone or less won less than 5% of the time, and lost a massive 57% of stakes at SP across 356 runners. The story is broadly similar longer term: since 2009, 58 from 1142 were able to win (5.08%) for an ROI of -43.46%. Ouch.

Treat nursery runners carrying eight stone or less with grave suspicion.

In terms of experience, more is definitely better, both in terms of winning chance and profitability. In the four year sample period, it was shown that horses won more often with each additional run in nursery handicaps and, moreover, that with at least two prior nursery starts were profitable to back at exchange prices.

Favour experienced handicappers in nurseries.

So far so generic. But still, using nothing more than a daily paper, you ought to be able to find qualifiers for a system - more than eight stone, more than three prior nursery runs - that has made a profit of 27.46 points at starting price and an enormous 251.9 points at Betfair SP in the four year review period.

How can Geegeez Gold's ratings assist?

We've seen earlier in this article how our SR figures are most effective in shorter races, specifically at up to seven furlongs. Back top rated SR horses carrying more than eight stone at distances of seven furlongs or shorter has yielded 136 winners from 689 runners (19.74%) and a profit at SP of 71.66 points. I don't have the exchange data yet, sadly, but this group includes the two biggest priced winners from the 11/1+ analysis above, those two being worth an additional 51.31 points at Betfair SP. So let's be conservative and call it 150 points profit on 689 bets (21.77% ROI).

I couldn't justify logically leaving those 9-07 top weights out, but if you can, you might be able to replicate the better historical rate of 114 from 585 for 102.67 points at SP. <<< Caveat emptor: you need to be comfortable that there's a legitimate reason to exclude the top weights.

Focus on top-rated SR horses at distances up to and including seven furlongs.

Going was likewise difficult to assimilate: the data say strongly that top-rated SR's perform best on softer than good or all weather surfaces, but there is no obvious reason why faster surfaces should yield lower strike rates and poorer ROI's. Of course, the fact that we geegeez.co.uk licenses the ratings means they are 'black box' to us and, therefore, that we/I cannot discount that there is something in the algorithm to support what those data say. I'm still struggling though...

It may pay to focus on softer turf and all weather...

Those are three solid guiding principles which are worth committing to memory/the notebook:

1. Treat nursery runners carrying eight stone or less with grave suspicion.

2. Favour experienced handicappers in nurseries.

3. Focus on top-rated SR horses at distances up to and including seven furlongs.

For fun, and as something to add to my QT Angles watch list (facility coming soon, I promise!), I'm going to add the following which may make more experienced punters cringe even though I hope I've sufficiently explained/excused/caveated/apologised for each element in what preceded:

- More than eight stone and less than 9-07 (top weight generally)
- Top-rated on SR
- Seven furlongs or shorter
- Softer than good, or all weather

It looks very good, but it may be that the veneer hides something less credible. Please handle with care...

Year Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
2014 86 16 35 18.6 40.7 86.70 96.92 100.81 1.04 1.66
2015 107 26 45 24.3 42.06 6.55 -2.16 6.12 1.26 2.17
2016 86 16 34 18.6 39.53 25.16 15.42 29.26 1 1.75
2017 114 30 53 26.32 46.49 40.09 36.41 35.17 1.42 2.33
ALL
393
88
167
22.39
42.5
158.5
146.59
40.33
1.2
2.02

I will personally also manually check for levels of experience when such runners crop up, as we don't currently have such variables in our Query Tool.

**

Nursery handicaps are a significant part of the flat programme book in the second part of the season, and I hope that the above has offered a few morsels worthy of consideration when playing such races.

Good luck!

Matt

p.s. this post was put together primarily with the aid of Geegeez Gold's Query Tool, which enables users to ask questions of our database and to display the answers to those questions in numerous table or chart output formats. Gold subscribers can try Query Tool here.

Non-Gold subscribers can register a free account here, or sign up for a trial (or renew a previous subscription) here.

Geegeez Gold: Feature Updates, June 2018

Slightly misleading title, I guess, as these new elements won't appear in Geegeez Gold until early July, but I wanted to give you a heads up of what we're working on just now.

The video below reveals all or, if you prefer a few words (no pictures), you'll find those below the video...

 

.

Report History

We're adding the ability to view the summary breakdown. So, for example, if Trainer A had 28 runners in the past fortnight and six winners, clicking the new icon will allow you to see those 28 runners, along with the details of the races - date, course, jockey, finishing position, field size and odds.

Export to CSV

We are also allowing, for the first time, users to download report output to csv. Although we think our parameter tools are a great way of shortlisting the report content you are interested in, some people want to get deep down with the data; now they - maybe you - can.

Query Tool Additions

We're adding some new variables to QT. Specifically, we're adding:

'Wind Count', which is the number of runs since wind surgery (0 = no wind surgery, 1 = first run after wind surgery, and so on).

'DSLR', which is days since last run

'SR Rank', which is the rank of the SR (speed rating) column in the cards. That is, SR Rank = 1 equates to the top rated horse in the race

'Damsire', which is the maternal grandfather (or mum's dad)

Race of the Day 7th June 2018 (plus new bits)

In today's video presentation, I go through Thursday's 9.20 at Carlisle using pace, draw and form to land on a horse that looks over-priced; and I also reveal a few cool new features which are coming soon...

Watch and listen to the video below!

The Importance of Pace in 5f Handicaps: Part 3

In my first two articles I looked at pace in five-furlong handicaps focusing primarily on courses, writes Dave Renham.

Part 1, which then links to Part 2, can be found here.

The data suggest that some courses offer a much stronger pace edge than others. However, all the research points to the fact that front runners in 5f handicaps have a definite edge almost regardless of where the race is being run. When I say ‘definite edge’ perhaps I should clarify that front runners win far more often than statistically one might expect.

To recap, when I talk about pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race and positions the horses take up in the opening couple of furlongs. As mentioned before the Geegeez website splits pace data into four groups - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up. These groups are assigned numerical values – led gets 4 points, prominent 3, mid division 2 and held up 1. When I used to tip ‘back in the day’, I created similar pace figures, but used values from 5 to 1, and also used the last six runs rather than the last four. I don’t think there will ever be a ‘perfect’ method for creating pace figures, but I am sure the Geegeez method is as good as any.

Horses on the Geegeez racecard pace tab (data view) have their last four UK/Ire runs highlighted, with the most recent run to the left and each horse has an individual total for their last four runs. Hence the highest last four races pace total a horse could achieve is 16 (four 4s), while the lowest is 4 (four 1s). This is assuming of course that they have had at least four career runs.

With such an advantage in 5f handicaps it makes sense to investigate ways of trying to successfully predict the front runner. One starting point would simply be to look at the horse’s combined pace figures in the race in question and choose the horse with the highest figure. Let us look at a recent example to help make this idea clearer to the reader. The race was run on the 31st May at Hamilton – it was a 5 furlong handicap with 7 runners. Pre-race the 7 runners had the following pace totals:

 

5f sprint pace tab example

5f sprint pace tab example

 

One difficulty for predicting the front runner in this particular race was that you had three horses at the top with very close figures. Also none of the runners had led a race early in more than one of their last four starts meaning that they were not ‘out and out’ front running trail-blazers. As the race panned out, the three most likely front runners took up the first three positions early on: Jabbarockie led narrowly to Jacob’s Pillow who in turn raced just ahead of Dapper Man. Hamilton’s 5f favours front runners reasonably strongly, as can be seen from the green pace ‘blobs’ in the image, and not surprisingly perhaps the winner and runner up came from these three.

As we can see, this race panned out in a very similar way to how the pace figures had predicted it would. However, correctly predicting the front runner of the top three rated was clearly not ‘a given’. This of course is one of the problems with blindly going for the highest rated pace horse. Having said that, one would expect the highest rated pace horse to lead far more often than the lowest rated pace horse! My aim is to look at this idea in more detail in the future.

For this article I am using a slightly more simplistic approach. I am focusing on the most recent race only. To begin with I looked at horses that gained a pace figure of 4 (by leading early) last time out in a 5f handicap to see what pace figure they achieved in their very next run. I was hoping of course that a decent percentage led early on next time out. Here are my findings:

Pace figure

(next run after leading over 5f LTO)

4 3 2 1
% of runners 42.5% 39.2% 8.3% 10.0%

 

This is quite encouraging with 42.5% of runners leading on their very next start. In addition less than 20% of them raced midfield or further back in the pack early on. At this juncture, it should be noted that horses that were taken on for the lead last time out scored slightly lower in terms of leading next time (led roughly 34% of the time). These are the horses that gained comments such as ‘with leaders’, ‘disputed lead’ etc – for the record these runners still gain a 4 score for these comments.

I then looked at the data for horses that had gained a 4 pace score last time out in 6f handicaps. 6f races are still considered sprints, and the front runner generally has an edge in these races too. However, this edge is less strong than it is over 5f. I was intrigued however to see how the next time out figures panned out – would last time out front runners, lead again? This is what I found:

Pace figure

Your first 30 days for just £1

(next run after leading over 6f LTO)

4 3 2 1
% of runners 31.0% 44.4% 12.5% 12.1%

 

Down to around 1 in 3 who managed to lead next time, although 75% either led or tracked the pace (which I guess can be taken as a positive). The figures for horses that were taken on for the lead last time out again scored lower (just 21% of these runners led next time).

It seems sensible given this initial data to concentrate on 5f handicaps for the remainder of this article. This does not mean we cannot gain a pace edge over other race distances too, but I feel the front running bias works best over the minimum distance of 5f.

My next port of call was to look at horses that had gained a pace score last time out in 5f handicaps of 1 – these are the horses that raced at the back of the pack LTO. I was hoping to see that they predominantly raced at the back of the pack early on in their next run, or at least did not lead early very often. This is what I found:

 

Pace figure (next run after a pace score of 1 LTO over 5f) 4 3 2 1
% of runners 7.9% 35.5% 22.1% 34.5%

 

Interestingly a pace score of 3 has been achieved the most, although a score of 1 was not far behind. Pleasingly from a research point of view only 8% of runners that were held up at the back LTO scored a 4 and led early on their next start. The stats suggest therefore that horses that gained a 4 pace score LTO in 5f handicaps are over 5 times more likely to lead next time out than horses that gained a 1 pace score.

There are of course many factors that determine how likely a horse is to lead – not just their pace score over their last four runs, or their pace score LTO – but as I have alluded to earlier the pace competitiveness of the other runners in the race. One huge factor that has to be taken into account is the draw at certain courses. If we look at Chester over 5f one can see that it is extremely difficult to lead from a wide draw. In handicaps with 8 or more runners horses from the top third of the draw have managed to take the early lead just 13% of the time. This drops to a measly 7.5% when there have been 10 or more runners. Chester is not unique in that respect either – Beverley in 5f handicaps (10 runners or more) has seen the top third of the draw lead early just 16% of the time whereas the bottom third of the draw has assumed an early advantage 52% of the time. Thus the draw must be factored in at some courses.

I looked next at whether leading in a bigger field made it more likely you would lead next time – my theory being that to lead a bigger field would need more early pace than if you were running in a smaller field. I looked at 5f handicaps with 12 runners or more, and it should be noted that if the race had split into more than one group, I chose the overall leader only. However, the figures virtually matched the overall 5f figures as the table below shows:

Pace figure (next run after leading over 5f LTO in a 12+ runner race) 4 3 2 1
% of runners 42.4% 39.8% 7.6% 10.2%

 

My next port of call was looking at horses that had won a 5f handicap LTO by making all the running – these runners earn comments such as ‘made all’, ‘made most’, ‘made virtually all’, etc. My theory was that horses in form that had led LTO were more likely to lead on their very next start. This time, the data backed up the theory:

Pace figure (next run making all or making most over 5f LTO) 4 3 2 1
% of runners 51.2% 36.8% 4.8% 7.2%

 

For the first time we exceed the 50% mark in terms of horses that lead.

Perhaps at this juncture it is worth elaborating on why being able to predict the front runner in 5f handicaps is worth the effort. It has been noted that front runners win more often than they should statistically, but the key point is that they potentially offer huge profits. Now clearly you are never going to be able to predict the front runner all the time, but the higher percentage you achieve, the greater your chances of making decent long term returns.

Finally in this article I want to offer another approach in terms of trying to predict the front runner in 5f handicaps – this is simply focusing on individual horses that traditionally have shown a desire to lead early. Now, this is likely to limit your potential bets considerably but if you were able to create a list of say 25 such horses you would have a good chance of turning the stats in your favour. Let me look at one such horse – Bosham. At the time of writing (June 1st 2018), Bosham has raced 67 times in his career and has led early in 41 of those races – this equates to 61.2% of the time. We can improve upon this by digging a bit deeper into his record: it improves to 63.8% in 5f races; in 5f races in single figure fields (9 or less runners) this improves to 71.4% (from 21 races); in 5f races running round a bend this improves to 76% (from 25 races).

Bosham last raced on the 31st May at Chelmsford over 5f. This race was also a good example of when the Geegeez pace stats for the last four runs have worked perfectly. These were the runners in the race with their pace totals:

 

Bosham was a very likely leader on a speed-favouring track, and prevailed at 7/1

Bosham was a very likely leader on a speed-favouring track, and prevailed at 7/1

 

Bosham looked the most likely front runner having led in each of his last four starts and so it proved. Of course if you had looked at his career record this would also have pinpointed him as a likely front runner. Another positive was that he had a decent draw in 4 which meant he was close to the favoured inside rail. As it turned out, Bosham led early and went on to win relatively unchallenged at 7/1. For the record the joint-second rated pace runner, Crosse Fire, a 16/1 shot, raced in second early on before fading into fourth in the final furlong.

The data in this article cements the fact that early pace is be a highly significant factor in horseracing, and 5f handicaps in particular. Geegeez Gold offers users the insight for any race within the Pace tab, and subscribers are strongly encouraged to take some time to get to grips with it. Such time investment is quite likely to generate a robust financial return.

***Part 4 can be viewed here***

- Dave Renham

p.s. if you're not yet a Gold subscriber, you can get a taster of the pace functionality either by registering as a free user and checking the pace in our free Gold races (up to six daily), or you can take a 30 day trial for £1. Click here to start your trial.

A few thoughts on today’s racing…

We stopped publishing Race of the Day last week, and I know that a number of you miss that daily dissection of a race. To partially fill the breach, I've recorded a video covering today's (Thursday's) Races of the Day, and also the Feature of the Day, Instant Expert.

This video is LOoOoOoNG. Feel free not to watch it all the way through. But you might get a smidge of value from the first ten or fifteen minutes. Naturally, if its sedative quality hasn't rendered you unconscious by that point, you are welcome to persist until the bitter end! I'll let you decide.

Here is the video. I will aim to get briefer and better with these...


Matt

Gold: What We’re Up To…

Development of Geegeez Gold into a form provision for all punters, regardless of time, experience or desired level of engagement, is ongoing. From the outset, we've sought to differentiate from other form books by using more visual indicators, and aggregating data for expediency purposes. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Instant Expert view.

 

More configurability is now yours with Instant Expert v2.0

More configurability is now yours with Instant Expert v2.0

 

We recently gave Instant Expert its first nip and tuck - more collagen injection than full cosmetic surgery - by introducing additional filters for time period, race code, and handicaps/all races. And we continue to make progress with the Query Tool, though that has been a little slower than ideal.

 

Basic charting functionality in geegeez.co.uk Query Tool

Basic charting functionality in geegeez.co.uk Query Tool

 

The pipeline for Gold development has a long route to travel, flowing as it does from the contents of the darker crevasses of my creaking cranium, via a couple of wildly talented but somewhat maverick developers, into the estuary of our test site, and finally onto the live website here.

We use a few collaboration tools to manage that flow, and in the remainder of this post I will share some of what currently resides there.

But first a warning...

Before I share what next, I need to warn you of the very next thing we're undertaking.

As Geegeez Gold has grown, both in terms of functionality and user numbers, so the requirement for computing power has grown too. Also, time has passed since we kicked this off in 2013, and the server we were using then is no longer up to the job.

We need http2, and fast-cgi, and SSD, and TLS 2.1 and other acronyms that I don't fully understand but have on good authority will enhance both the stability of the site - which, in truth, has been disappointing in the past month or so - and the speed of access for users. Oh, and of course, the new box will further improve security.

It's a hideous job, fraught with peril and, to be blunt, I've been sh!tting myself about doing it for more than two years now. But it cannot be ignored any longer. We are currently in the process of building the new server - a process that has complexity relating to the various inputs we have, as well as code and data challenges, etc etc blah blah.

From your perspective, you just need it to work and, in an ideal world, to work a little faster. Our job is to make that happen. We're on it, and we'll likely be switching in the next fortnight or so. *dons tin hat, and assumes the brace position*

 

Then what?

Once we've migrated to the new whizzbang (more whizz less bang, I hope) server, we can get back to the fun stuff. Here's what's in store, though keep in mind that not all of it will necessarily see the light of day: the features we're considering range from 'must have' to Coleridgesque opiate-addled fantasy!

Here we go then...

- Calculate and publish overrounds for races (general excitement level: yawn)

- QT: make 'group by' links clickable (general excitement level: useful)

- QT: add 'tool tips' to explain stuff (general excitement level: yawn)

- QT: add Speed Rating Rank to allow analysis of the effectiveness of the figures (general excitement level: cool)

- QT: add damsire (general excitement level: mildly interesting)

- QT: allow users to save queries within QT (general excitement level: awesome!)

- QT: allow users to view saved query qualifiers on the racecard (general excitement level: totes amazeballs!)

- QT: add Equipment Count (e.g. blinkers first time) (general excitement level: interesting)

- QT: add Wind Count (e.g. first run after wind op) (general excitement level: mucho interesting)

- QT: add last run info (days since, class, course, distance, etc) (general excitement level: very useful)

- Then What?: add class distinction to 'then what?' form follow in racecard (general excitement level: useful)

- Top SR Differential report: highlighting the horses furthest clear of their fields each day (general excitement level: interesting)

- Export report output to Excel (general excitement level: nice touch)

- TJ Combo report: add one year trainer/jockey sub-report (general excitement level: very useful)

- Class Move report: new report, with an option to display class move indicators on racecard (general excitement level: useful)

- Racecard menu filters: only interested in sprint handicaps? See only the races you're fussed about (general excitement level: niche)

- Instant Expert: add draw position (general excitement level: very useful for flat races)

- Instant Expert: create trainer/jockey/sire options, if possible (general excitement level: awesome)

- Ratings pars: calculate and publish ratings pars for course/distance/class combinations (general excitement level: interesting)

Your first 30 days for just £1

 

And now for something completely different...

Lots of interesting bits there, most of them of interest to Peter but not Paula, or Paula but not Peter, if you see what I mean. Alongside all of that, I am working on a couple of more mechanical features, which are, to be frank, no better than even money to see publication. For interest, then, these are they...

  1. Sprint Handicap Form Cheat Sheet

I recently read an old book called Betting on Flat Handicaps, by Jon Gibby. It was published fifteen years ago and, since then, much of the draw and pace data in the book has become outdated. Luckily for us, Geegeez Gold has permanently current data for both of those elements which, applied to the excellent regimen espoused in Gibby's book, provides a very solid framework for form study in such races.

Nothing about his approach is earth-shattering or rocket science, but all of it represents common sense fundamental principles. Gibby, who focuses primarily in sprint handicaps, goes about eliminating a section of the field based on where they are drawn. For the remaining runners he digs into the form book. See, I told you it wasn't rocket science. That it is effective should not be surprising.

I've been looking at a race or two a day, when I have time, and my results in this 'testing phase' are below.

Very (very!) early days, but a good start

Very (very!) early days, but a good start

 

Now, straight off the bat it needs saying that a 40% strike rate is unsustainable, still less when two of those winners were at double digit odds. So let's be realistic here: there's a solid chance of a protracted losing sequence coming next for the test. What I'm looking for in this incubator phase is some sort of affirmation for the process. I want the picks to largely run well, or with legitimate excuses; and I want unbacked winners to generally have been on my shortlist.

If after 50 bets - still a small sample but data-driven betting on racing is usually based on small samples - that's the general feel I'm getting, it'll be time to engage a little more committedly...

So, if the above is the answer - or are the answers - so far, where are the workings out?

My process is as follows:

  1. Draw
  2. Trainer form
  3. Pace profile
  4. Horse form

Here's how I go about it:

Draw

For the draw, I go to the draw tab in the race card on Geegeez Gold, and select the going above and below today's official going (e.g. if today's going is good to soft, I'll choose the range good through to soft). I then amend the runner range to be +/- 2 (e.g. if ten runners, I'll select 8 to 12). These ranges are used to get better sample sizes from which to work. Clearly, by being less specific on going and field size I lose a little in terms of direct relevance; but my contention is that this is more than mitigated by the slightly higher confidence levels commensurate with a bigger dataset. I also use 'actual draw', i.e. number of stalls from box 1 after non-runners are considered. Anyhoo...

I then have some data in the IV column on the draw tab. IV, or impact value, is a measure of how much more or less likely something is to happen. In this case, it's a measure of how much more or less likely a horse is to win when drawn in stall x based on the total population of runners in the sample.

I add that IV number to my spreadie and then, in an attempt to even out the individual starting stall IV's, I take an average of the stall and its immediate neighbours. That is, for stall 1, an average of stall 1 and 2; for stall 2, an average of stalls 1 to 3; for stall 6, an average of stalls 5 to 7; and so on. To that, I add a little crass colour coding (what can I say, I find colour a very powerful visual aid...!)

It looks a bit like this.

Colour-coded average draw IV's

Colour-coded average draw IV's

 

The colour-coding is a bit rough and ready, and I'm obviously trying not to cherry-pick. That is, it makes no sense, for instance, to infer a positive impact from horses in stalls four and six, but negative impact for the horse in the stall between them. We need to be a little 'real world' here and look for general patterns. The averaging thing helps to some degree, but there remains inference in the process.

So, in the example above, I have a primary draw focus on those in stalls one to five. Note how the middle draws have fared less well historically in this example. The winner here was drawn five and, if I'd looked solely at individual draw, stall five's IV of just 0.42 would have put me off. Even in this case, it remains daft to say that five is green/good while six is red/bad. With the exception of some tracks where stall 1 is a negative, it is generally the case that there is a steady diffusion of goodness/badness rather than absolutely/arbitrary cutoffs. But this is punting, and we need to take a view!

 

Trainer Form

I'm not certain I've got the best approach to evaluating draw, and that's a comment which applies even more to my current method for trainer form. Here, I'm taking an average of the IV's for each trainer's 14 day, 30 day, course 1 year and course 5 year form. The problem here is that there is a very obvious 'related contingency': in plain English, the trainer's 30 day form includes his 14 day form, and the trainer's five year course form includes her one year course form. So that's probably wrong. It might be better to add the average of the 14/30 to the average of the C1/C5, or to take an average of those two averages.

Moreover, I'm not currently factoring in the contextual form elements, such as trainer's form with e.g. sprinters, or first run off a layoff or handicap first time, etc. That, too, is probably wonky.

Nevertheless, I have some data, which gives me a view of trainer form, and looks like this:

An approximation of trainer form is useful ballast

An approximation of trainer form is useful ballast

 

Pace Profile

Step 3 is to profile the pace in the race. How much is there overall, how is it spread across the field, and what are the individual horse's pace profiles?

All of this can be gleaned very quickly by sorting the runners on the pace tab by draw. Here is how our example race looked on the pace tab:

Pace tab shows overall pace profile, historical performance, and individual pace preferences

Pace tab shows overall pace profile, historical performance, and individual pace preferences

 

There is a lot of information in this view.

First, in the green box, I've highlighted the historical pace performance of the different early run styles - with the going and runner ranges extended as discussed previously.

Second, in the blue box to the right, I've highlighted the runners' average pace score for their last four UK/Irish runs (4 - led, through to 1 - held up).

And third, the view is sorted by draw (see left hand orange box) to give a visual perspective on how the pace might play out, based on the recent history of the runners in the field. In this case, there looked to be a bit of pace competition both high and low, where our draw research ssuggested those drawn on the flanks had the best record. Moreover, those who raced prominently or mid-division had fared marginally best in this sample (see the coloured blobs in the highlighted green box), though there seemed little in it.

That draw/pace profile hinted at Muscika, Black Isle Boy and My Name Is Rio.

 

Horse Form

The final piece in the puzzle is horse form. Clearly, this is a significant piece and, once the field has been whittled using draw and/or pace, the focus is keenly on what the animals have done. Trainer form is probably the least considered element at this stage in my testing, unless a handler is obviously bang out of, or in, form. [Trainer form is also the element which needs most further scrutiny just now, in terms of how I measure it].

I use Instant Expert, Full Form and the Card tab for the horse form part, and it feels like the one component which will be quite difficult to automate.

Here's how the key components of my 'race card' looked in the spreadsheet [click the image to expand it].

Pulling all the elements together offers a pretty solid understanding of which horses have value chances

Pulling all the elements together offers a pretty solid understanding of which horses have value chances

 

Looking back on this I probably got the pre-runner pace profile colouring wrong. It is generally my preference to favour early pace, as I  have done here; but the historical profile suggested a slightly more restrained ride was often the way to go, and so it proved. Fortunately, there was enough in Black Isle Boy's favour - especially at the price - to have a small interest anyway, though I feel I was somewhat lucky rather than good in this instance.

 

Why are you telling me this?

I mention all of the above for two reasons. One, a bit like the 'secret' to weight loss being diet and exercise, there is no secret to form study. It involves pulling all, or as many as possible, of the salient factors into a melting pot of deliberation. It takes time and effort, some of which can be automated.

Which segues nicely onto reason two: all of this content exists within Geegeez Gold, which means the process of automation is within our/my control. It's on the wish list!

 

2. A R-r-r-r-r-ating?!

Ratings are tricky. Super tricky. There are times and places when they're of huge utility, and there are other times when, in my opinion, they offer  little to no value. For example, what use is a speed rating if the race looks likely to be run at a crawl? And what use is an ability rating if it fails to account for the specific race conditions on the day?

The best rating would accommodate such considerations and more besides; and it would learn to refine its number set as more evidence is presented. In point of fact, that's largely how Peter May's ratings, which we proudly carry here on Geegeez Gold, are derived.

And, in a weak moment, I got it into my noggin that I might create my own set of figures. Actually, it's a recurring thought. But I know that this would become somewhat sisyphean (I'd love to name a horse, Somewhat Sysiphean!) - it would be a life's work, and one almost certainly doomed to ignominious failure.

In spite of holding that contention in my saner moments, I did draw up the first (extremely) rough draft of 'ground zero' for a rating set. Here is it. Click for a full size view, and feel free to make a comment below. But please don't ask questions!!

Some 'fag packet' thoughts on how a rating set might be constructed. Not. Straightforward.

Some 'fag packet' thoughts on how a rating set might be constructed. Not. Straightforward.

 

Summary

So yes, oodles in the pipeline, some of it nearer / more realistic than others; all of it obliged to follow on from the major infrastructure work we're currently undertaking. It's going to be another exciting year ahead!

Matt

Instant Expert v2.0 is LIVE

It's live, the new Instant Expert v2.0. Or maybe we'll just continue to call it Instant Expert, eh?

Most importantly, if you're in the Remain camp, do nothing and Instant Expert will continue to display the data as ever it did. However, if you're an Instantexpiteer (see what I did there? Not great, granted) then you'll want to have a watch and a listen to the below videotape, which explains all...

There is also an updated User Guide that outlines the changes. You can get that from the link on the My Geegeez page.

Geegeez Cards: A few small tweaks

Nothing exciting in the latest tweaks, which are little more than minor bug fixes. Specifically, they're as follows:

- Disabled switching between race card tabs when using the arrow keys for up/down scrolling

- Added 'abandonment' notifications for races/meetings

- Fixed a bug with scrolling between Full Form runners from the drop down, whereby performance slowed the more races that were viewed

- Added more race details (distance, runners) to compact card menu 'hover over' data

- Fixed issue with incorrect 'runs since wind surgery' counts

More exciting things coming soon...

 

Part 2: The Importance of Pace in 5f Handicaps

In my first article I looked at pace in 5-furlong handicaps focusing on the running style bias angle. The figures clearly showed a huge difference between the front running chances of horses depending on which 5f course he/she was running. In this second part, we will revisit the course angle and aim to offer a more complete picture.

To recap from the first article, when I talk about pace my main focus is the early pace in a race and the position horses take up early on. The Geegeez website splits pace data into four groups - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up. These groups are assigned numerical values – led gets 4 points, prominent 3, mid division 2 and held up 1. On each Geegeez racecard these figures are assigned to every horse in the race going back four UK or Irish runs.

We can use these numerical figures to create course and distance pace averages. I have done this by adding up the pace scores of all the winners at a particular course and dividing it by the total number of races. The higher the average score, the more biased the course and distance is to horses that lead early or race close to the pace. Here are the 5 furlong handicap C&D pace averages for all turf courses in the UK.

 

Course 5f pace average 5f Pace Rank
Lingfield (turf) 3.33 1
Chester 3.3 2
Epsom 3 3
Catterick 2.97 4
Ripon 2.97 5
Redcar 2.88 6
Chepstow 2.86 7
Hamilton 2.85 8
Nottingham 2.84 9
Thirsk 2.82 10
Windsor 2.78 11
Musselburgh 2.77 12
Newbury 2.73 13
Beverley 2.72 14
Leicester 2.72 15
Pontefract 2.69 16
Goodwood 2.64 17
Ayr 2.63 18
Newmarket 2.58 19
Haydock 2.57 20
Wetherby 2.56 21
Bath 2.54 22
Doncaster 2.51 23
Salisbury 2.5 24
Sandown 2.5 25
Brighton 2.49 26
Carlisle 2.49 27
York 2.47 28
Ffos Las 2.38 29
Yarmouth 2.24 30
Ascot 2.24 31

 

Lingfield (turf) tops the list, but in truth they have very few 5f handicaps so we perhaps out to take this figure with the proverbial pinch of salt. Chester comes next which is no surprise based on the stats from the previous article. In that article Chester had exceptional winning percentages for front runners and very poor percentages for hold up horses. A 3.3 C&D pace average is huge, so let us look at Chester 5f in more detail.

Running style

Chester 5f

Wins Runners Strike rate (%) IV
Led 31 88 35.23 3.38
Prominent 21 194 10.82 1.04
Mid Division 5 109 4.59 0.44
Held Up 4 194 2.06 0.20

 

As can be seen, 52 of 61 Chester races have been won by horses that have either led or raced prominently. Essentially these figures indicate that the winner is almost six times more likely to be racing in the front half of the pack early on, than the back half.

Epsom are third on the list but they have only had 25 races so, as with Lingfield turf, the data is limited. Let us instead look at the Catterick who lie fourth on the list. Catterick have had 145 races so a bigger sample to breakdown:

 

Running style

Catterick 5f

Wins Runners Strike rate (%) IV
Led 47 196 23.98 2.51
Prominent 65 672 9.67 1.00
Mid Division 15 175 8.57 0.93
Held Up 18 473 3.81 0.4

 

The stats for Catterick are not in Chester’s league in terms of pace bias to front/prominent racers, but the tendency is still strong. Front runners especially have a very potent edge. Digging deeper, if we focus on races at Catterick with 12 to 14 runners the pace bias does increase significantly:

 

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Running style Wins Runners Strike rate (%) IV
Led 15 66 22.73 2.88
Prominent 22 227 9.69 1.23
Mid Division 5 88 5.68 0.72
Held Up 4 201 1.99 0.25

 

37 of 46 races were won by early leaders or horses that raced prominent early. The winner is roughly four more times more likely to be racing in the front half of the pack early on, than the back half.

 

At this juncture I decided to dig a little deeper looking to see whether the going made a difference to the overall 5f course pace averages. In the past I have heard two contrasting theories connected with front running horses which would potentially affect the course pace average on a specific type of going:

Theory 1 – horses that lead on softer ground are difficult to peg back because horses find it harder to accelerate from off the pace on such going;

Theory 2 – horses that lead on firmer ground are likely to get less tired at the front due the faster conditions and this accentuates their front running edge. (Plus on quicker ground the race is likely to be run in a shorter overall time again meaning the front runner is expending less energy).

So which one is true – or is neither true? If front runners do have a bigger edge under certain going conditions it will push up the overall course pace average.

I decided to split the results into two – races on good or firmer; and races on good to soft or softer. Here are the course pace averages for all 5f handicaps split into these going types:

 

Going Course Pace average
Good or firmer 2.72
Good to soft or softer 2.67

 

As we can see the difference is minimal and not statistically significant. I plan to look at more extremes of going when I have time – looking at soft or heavy versus good to firm or firmer. However, looking at these initial figures, I am not expecting to see a huge variance.

My final area of research in this article is concerned with ‘class’. There is an argument, which I believe is a fair one, that the higher the class, the harder it is for horses to lead from start to finish – due to the more competitive nature of the opposition. Hence, at courses that run more higher class handicaps one might expect their course pace averages to be lower as a result. How to calculate ‘class’ at a particular course is difficult – do you use class levels, prize money, average Official Ratings across all races? I have decided to use a relatively simplistic approach by creating average class levels for each course by adding the class levels for each race and dividing by how many races there were. Hence, for example, if a course had had 10 class 2 handicaps and 10 class 3 handicaps their class average would be 2.5. Here are the course class averages for 5f handicaps (lowest class averages at the top):

Course Course Race Class Average Course Class Rank
Chepstow 5.47 1
Hamilton 5.43 2
Catterick 5.32 3
Brighton 5.26 4
Ffos Las 5.12 5
Beverley 5.11 6
Yarmouth 5.08 7
Bath 5.03 8
Carlisle 5 9
Nottingham 4.96 10
Redcar 4.95 11
Lingfield (turf) 4.92 12
Musselburgh 4.85 13
Ayr 4.77 14
Leicester 4.67 15
Ripon 4.57 16
Wetherby 4.56 17
Pontefract 4.53 18
Salisbury 4.45 19
Windsor 4.44 20
Thirsk 4.09 21
Goodwood 4.04 22
Newbury 4 23
Sandown 4 24
Doncaster 3.85 25
Haydock 3.79 26
Newmarket 3.64 27
Chester 3.02 28
Epsom 2.81 29
York 2.8 30
Ascot 2.62 31

 

As you would expect, most of the Grade 1 courses are near the bottom of the table. Three of these courses - Ascot, York and Epsom - have the most competitive 5f handicaps in terms of class.

To see if there is a correlation between course pace averages and average course race class I have ranked both lists next to each other, and produced an average rank. For there to be a strong correlation you would expect the majority of the courses to be in similar positions in each column – in other words the higher course 5f pace averages should correlate with the lower course class averages; likewise the lower course pace averages should correlate with the higher course class averages.

 

Course Course Class Rank (low>high) 5f Pace Rank Class / Pace Average
Catterick 3 4 3.5
Chepstow 1 7 4
Hamilton 2 8 5
Lingfield (turf) 12 1 6.5
Redcar 11 6 8.5
Nottingham 10 9 9.5
Beverley 6 14 10
Ripon 16 5 10.5
Musselburgh 13 12 12.5
Brighton 4 26 15
Bath 8 22 15
Leicester 15 15 15
Chester 28 2 15
Windsor 20 11 15.5
Thirsk 21 10 15.5
Ayr 14 18 16
Epsom 29 3 16
Ffos Las 5 29 17
Pontefract 18 16 17
Carlisle 9 27 18
Newbury 23 13 18
Yarmouth 7 30 18.5
Wetherby 17 21 19
Goodwood 22 17 19.5
Salisbury 19 24 21.5
Haydock 26 20 23
Newmarket 27 19 23
Doncaster 25 23 24
Sandown 24 25 24.5
York 30 28 29
Ascot 31 31 31

 

At both ends of the list, sorted by Class/Pace Average, we have the most valid correlations. For instance, Catterick, Chepstow and Hamilton all strongly favour front-runners and all host a majority of low grade five-furlong handicaps.

Meanwhile, Ascot and York, as well as to a lesser degree Sandown, Doncaster, Newmarket and Haydock, all generally host high class sprint handicaps where the early pace holds up less well.

I hope you have enjoyed this second instalment and, as always, comments are welcomed.

***Part 3 can be viewed here***

- Dave Renham

The Importance of Pace in 5f handicaps

This is my first article for www.geegeez.co.uk and before I start I would like to share with you my racing background, writes David Renham. I have worked for the Racing Post as a Spotlight writer and the Racing and Football Outlook as a trends ‘expert’; I have also written several books, mainly on draw bias, back in the early 2000s. And I have been a tipster with some success – and some failures! In all, I have written over 700 racing articles for magazines, newspapers, and websites.

Matt asked me to write on an ‘ad hoc’ basis which suits me as I have a full-time job outside racing at present. I hope you will find my articles interesting, useful, and ultimately lead to some profitable betting opportunities. However, as we all know, making money from backing or indeed laying horses is not easy. You need a combination of many things I believe – hard work; a good understanding of what you are trying to achieve; some sort of specialism as I feel there is simply too much racing and too many horses to gain a handle on if you don’t specialise; and, last but not least, a bit of luck.

For this article I am going to discuss pace in a race. When I talk about pace my main focus is the initial pace in a race and the position the horses take up early on. One of the many useful aspects of geegeez.co.uk is the pace section and the stats I am sharing with you in this article are based on the site’s pace data (found in the Pace tab on the racecard).

The pace data on Geegeez is split into four - Led, Prominent, Mid Division and Held Up. Let me try to explain what type of horse fits what type of pace profile:

Led – essentially horses that lead early, usually within the first furlong or so; or horses that dispute or fight for the early lead;

Prominent – horses that lay up close to the pace just behind the leader(s);

Mid Division – horses that race mid pack;

Held Up – horses that are held up at, or near the back of the field.

So after each race all the horses are assigned points in regards to what position they took up early in the race. Leaders get 4, prominent runners 3, horses that ran mid division 2, and those held up score 1. Geegeez has over 1,059,000 runners’ pace comments scored, from a total of about 1,100,000. [The others are things like unseated rider at the start, or where there is no discernible pace reference in the comment].

If you click the pace tab on the website you are presented with pace data regarding the specific course and distance of that race, and pace data for each horse covering their last four UK or Irish runs. For this article I am concentrating on the course data and creating pace figures for specific course and distances – namely handicap races run over 5 furlongs. I have always been a fan of sprint handicaps and early pace in sprint handicaps generally gives a bigger advantage to front runners than races over longer distances. In addition to this, some courses offer a bigger advantage to front runners than others as you will see.

The first set of data I wish to share with you is the overall pace stats for 5f turf handicaps (minimum number of runners in a race 6):

Pace comment Runners Wins SR%
Led 3450 637 18.5
Prominent 9987 1078 10.8
Mid Division 3187 235 7.4
Held Up 8465 567 6.7

Horses that led, or disputed the lead early, have a huge advantage in turf 5f handicaps. So, if we could predict the front runner or front runners in each race we should be ‘quids in’, and indeed would be. Unfortunately, it is not an exact science and how best to do this I will leave for a future article.

Best performing 5f handicap tracks for front runners

My aim for this article is to show you the differences in the course figures for 5f handicaps and how some courses are more suited to early leaders/front runners than others. Here are the courses with the best strike rates (minimum 40 runners):

Course Front Runners Wins SR% P/L SP IV
Chester 88 31 35.2 120 3.38
Catterick 196 47 24 177.71 2.51
Hamilton 170 39 22.9 130.29 2.04
Beverley 197 44 22.3 167.29 2.51
Epsom 50 11 22 45.5 2.96
Nottingham 219 48 21.9 224.08 2.32
Leicester 88 19 21.6 60.75 1.91
Windsor 160 34 21.3 100.31 1.9

 

Chester has amazing stats for early leaders: the tight turning 5f clearly suits front runners and, when combined with a good draw, front runners are clearly hard to peg back. Another round 5f, Catterick lies second with excellent figures also. Keep in mind that the average strike rate is 18.5% for all courses over this minimum trip.

Worst performing 5f handicap tracks for front runners

At the other end of the scale here are the courses with the poorest stats for early leaders/front runners in 5f handicaps:

Course Front Runners Wins SR% P/L SP IV
Newmarket (July/Rowley combined) 88 12 13.6 -8.37 1.19
York 106 14 13.2 21 1.78
Haydock 146 18 12.3 -18.17 1.25
Sandown 119 13 10.9 -19.37 1.04
Yarmouth 96 10 10.4 -39.58 0.86
Ascot 98 8 8.2 -30.5 0.99
Doncaster 90 6 6.7 -32.5 0.81

 

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It is interesting to see York in this list – York is often considered a decent front running track, but not according to our figures.

 

Chester performance by number of runners in race

Looking at Chester in more detail, we can split the data by number of runners:

Runners in race Front Runners Wins SR% P/L SP IV
6 to 8 36 18 50 90.5 3.65
9 to 11 35 11 31.4 23.5 3.22
12 to 14 17 2 11.8 6 1.46

 

Here at geegeez.co.uk, data regarding number of race runners is calibrated slightly differently to my table, but you are able to change the figures on the site to suit your own personal requirements.

 

Overall performance by number of runners in race

As we can see from the Chester figures, the smaller the field size, the better it has been for front runners. The general perception of punters I believe matches the Chester data – in other words most punters believe front runners are more likely to win in smaller fields. It makes sense I guess as there are less rivals to pass the leader. However, is this really the case? Here are the data:

 

Runners in race Front Runners Wins SR%
6 to 8 1214 264 21.7
9 to 11 1205 223 18.5
12 to 14 624 106 17.0
15+ 407 44 10.8

 

The stats back up the basic theory, but a 17% win rate for early leaders/front runners in 12 to 14 runner 5f turf handicaps is a strong performance, especially when you take into account the likely prices of such runners. Hence, one could legitimately argue that the best front running value lies in the 12-14 runner range.

 

Best performing 5f handicap tracks for hold up horses

Of course, early leader/front runner stats are not the whole story when trying to build up a ‘pace’ picture of each course. We need to look at the stats at the other end of scale – those for hold up horses. Firstly a look at the 5f courses that offer hold up horses the best strike rates:

Course Hold up horses Wins SR% P/L SP IV
Yarmouth 195 27 13.8 -33.04 1.16
Bath 332 41 12.3 -9.5 1.1
Brighton 258 30 11.6 -68.97 0.89
Newbury 99 9 9.1 -31.92 0.82
Salisbury 66 6 9.1 -23.5 0.8
Leicester 178 16 9 -51.87 0.79
Carlisle 192 17 8.9 -55.25 0.82

 

Interestingly you would expect these courses to match those that have the poorest stats for early leaders/front runners (see above). However, only Yarmouth appears in both groups. Hence the importance of not just looking at the ‘led’ data in order to appreciate pace biases at particular courses.

More materially, perhaps, all courses are firmly negative at SP, and most have an impact value of less than 1, meaning such types are less likely than horses with other run styles (1 meaning the same likelihood).

Worst performing 5f handicap tracks for hold up horses

Now a look at those courses with the worst strike rates for hold up horses:

Course Hold up horses Wins SR% P/L SP IV
Chepstow 187 10 5.3 -104.42 0.5
Musselburgh 746 39 5.2 -346.17 0.5
Ripon 200 8 4 -122.42 0.38
Redcar 307 12 3.9 -200.92 0.41
Catterick 473 18 3.8 -312.17 0.4
Epsom 113 3 2.7 -98.25 0.36
Chester 194 4 2.1 -160.5 0.2

 

Chester, Catterick and Epsom appear in this table – courses that appeared in the top 5 for front runners. However, once again the correlation between good courses for front runners / poor courses for hold up horses is not as strong as one might expect.

What can be said with a degree of confidence is that these tracks are graveyards for hold up horses and such runners make abject bets in the main.

Summing Up

So how should we use the data discussed in this article? There are numerous ways to do this, some of which I will elaborate upon in a future article. Ultimately however, it is important to appreciate the differences between each course and distance in 5f handicaps, especially their configuration and favoured run styles, points which should inform your betting when you decide to use pace data as part of your betting strategy.

For example, if you feel you have found two ‘nailed on’ front runners in two different 5f handicaps, at say Chester and Yarmouth, you need to appreciate that whoever front runs in the Chester race, has, according to past data, over 3 times more chance of winning than your Yarmouth trailblazer. Of course your ‘nailed on’ front runner might not lead early but that is not really the point I am trying to make!

I hope you have found this article interesting and potentially useful from a betting perspective. If you have yet to use the pace data on geegeez.co.uk, I hope I have sown some seeds of interest and that you may start to think about how to incorporate pace handicapping into your betting armoury.

- David Renham

** You can read Part 2 of this series here **

Easter Eggs from Geegeez…

It's Easter so how about some Easter eggs? In the software community, an Easter egg is a hidden piece of functionality only known to insiders. Well, we're not quite so covert here at geegeez.co.uk, so in today's post, I've a couple of tasty morsels which are hopefully better for you - for your teeth at least - than a chocolate ovoid!

Specifically, I've recorded a video showing what's new and what's coming soon, including something about which I'm very excited. And I've a few words - mainly just for fun - on the Irish National. Let's start with the Geegeez Gold Easter Egg...

Now and Next on Geegeez Gold

Video timeline

00:00 Introductory waffle

00:30 Hcap/All filter on Draw tab

03:08 The first change to Instant Expert for a loooooong time

05:17 Query Tool: cosmetic enhancements

07:38 Query Tool: pictures!

08:55 Query Tool: Angles, a first look

10:25 QT Angles on the racecard

14:30 Query Tool: example Angle

19:10 Two-day and one-week Gold passes (non-recurring)

Your first 30 days for just £1

**

Irish National Thoughts

The following is at best half-baked, and is offered 'just for fun' on what is shaping up to be something of a washout day...

I would be slightly sweeter on the picks were it not for the white hot tussle for the Irish Trainers' Championship between Messrs Mullins and Elliott. That significant set to has seen no fewer than THIRTEEN entries from Cullentra House, and another four from Mullins' Closutton base. Whatever you think of that from a macro perspective, it makes for a very different race shape and, thus, trends - which have been strong in this contest down the years - may be torpedoed on this occasion.

No matter, for the trends have been strong, as I say. A low weight, and a commensurate lesser rating; a younger horse; a win over a trip of three miles or beyond; fairly unexposed over fences; and a recent run between two weeks and two months. Those criteria (perhaps excluding the weight/rating one) largely fit a lot of top table staying chases and so make sense.

In truth, it is the weight/rating element which I suspect may derail us this term, with so many classy contenders from the two aforementioned powerhouses. One thing you can be sure if you fancy one from Mullins' or Elliott's batallion is that they will have no idea which is most likely to win: jockey bookings and the like may be less of a pointer then, and prices may be artificially inflated down the batting order.

Enough of the flim flam, here are the ones I've backed:

Trends picks

My trendy shortlist was Arkwrisht, Squouateur, Sutton Manor and Champagne Harmony. The last named is a million chance on form and will take no more than the minimum stake on the machine as a flippant action bet. I have reservations about both S's, Squouateur and Sutton Manor, in a big field, though I've backed them both, at 25 and 40 on Betfair - both are now bigger (great, ahem).

The one I like most is Arkwisht, trained by Joseph O'Brien, and ridden by Rachael Blackmore.

Surprisingly, Elliott and Mullins are collectively nought from 50! That must be odds-on to change this afternoon, but if not Arkwrisht ticks a lot of boxes - form in big fields, on heavy ground, and beyond three miles - though I do have a slight niggle about whether the eight-year-old German-bred can quite see out this 29 furlong slog. Still, each way at 28/1 with as many place concessions as you can snaffle should offer a run.

Other picks

And I've taken a couple of other 'just for fun' swipes - well, you can't have enough swipes in a race like this, can you? - in the form of The Paparazzi Kid and Moulin A Vent.

The Paparazzi Kid would be a real story horse if he won. €270,000, the first prize, could well be more than the difference between Mullins and Elliott at the end of the season, so the fact that this chap is having his first start for Gordon, having previously been trained by Willie, would smart in the extreme for the incumbent champ!

He has a better form chance than 66/1 (160 on the exchange) implies as well, in spite of being a full on trends buster. He's eleven (too old), his winning form is all at two and a half miles (won't stay), and he's been chasing for five years (too long). The negatives out of the way, the case for the defence is thus: loves heavy ground (122114 lifetime), has very good form in big fields (20311244U in 16+ runner races), has slipped to a pound below his last winning mark, and has gone to a yard with an excellent record at winning first time after a trainer switch and off a layoff.

He'll be ridden for luck, which he very well might not get, and to get the trip, which he very well might not get; so caveat emptor. But he'll be fun to watch for a circuit and a bit at least.

Moulin A Vent has a more obvious claim, as one of the classier horses in the line up. This Graded performer drops into handicap company for the first time, though jockey bookings suggest he's the stable second string, Sean Flanagan jumping ship to Snow Falcon. He may live to regret that as his spurned former partner, on which he's sat every time that one has raced over an obstacle, sets up well against conditions.

Only six, Moulin A Vent has had 14 career starts, just six of which have been in chases. He's clearly unexposed - the corollary to which is that he's inexperienced - and a fast run stamina test might be just what he wants. Big fields and heavy ground hold no fears, but the fences do: this chap is a sticky jumper. Faller insurance may be a prudent play if you can find it, and the general 33/1 - nearer 40's on Betfair (no insurance) - is attractive.

There are loads of class horses in what is a really deep and competitive renewal, so take a few stabs, swot up on your Gigginstown cap colours, and strap yourself in for a fun ten minutes or so. Good luck!

Matt

More New Bits on Gold: Pace Granularity

As promised, we've added a couple more new bits to Geegeez Gold - with plenty more to follow in the coming weeks.

Today, I'm pleased to share with you improved pace granularity and the addition of the HCAP/ALL filter on Report Angles. Let's deal with the latter first.

Report Angles: Handicap Only option

On a number of Gold reports, including Trainer and Jockey Statistics, Trainer/Jockey Combo, and Trainer and Sire Snippets, it is possible for a user to select the data based on ALL races or handicaps (HCAP) only. Well, by surprisingly (to me, at least!) popular demand, we've added these filters to the new Report Angles feature.

PLEASE NOTE: We're aware of a problem with the Trainer Snippets HCAP options on Report Angles, and working to fix that. For now, please leave them set to ALL if you you use Trainer Snippets within Report Angles.

It looks like this:

On selected reports, you can now opt to view Angles data for handicaps only, or for all races

On selected reports, you can now opt to view Angles data for handicaps only, or for all races

 

Once you've set the angles up - don't forget to save them - you'll be able to see your chosen parameters both in your Report Angles report, and on the racecards themselves, as follows:

If you've selected HCAP on the settings page, you'll only see handicap race data on your Report Angles

If you've selected HCAP on the settings page, you'll only see handicap race data on your Report Angles

Your first 30 days for just £1

 

Report Angles appear inline on the selected race types

Report Angles appear inline on the selected race types

 

Pace Granularity

Our pace information is incredibly instructive for understanding how a race will be run. The pace maps are rarely far from what comes to pass and are a must for the serious punter. But, when it comes to understanding how the shape of today's race overlays onto history, we had hitherto adopted a 'one size fits all' approach.

That is, we lumped all races over a given course and distance combination together, regardless of whether there were five or fifteen runners; or the going was firm or heavy. Clearly that's a little too imprecise to be optimal, so we've addressed it.

From today, we have implemented going and field size ranges to better capture today's race shape against its historical precursors. The short video below explains all:

 

 

There is plenty more in the pipeline, and I look forward to sharing it with you soon.

Matt

p.s. if you have any issues with getting the new elements to work, please do consult this FAQ before contacting our support. Obviously, if you've done that and are still having problems, let us know!

New Gold Features Coming Soon in 2018…

New Year, New Year.

Happy New Year to you.

After a quiet spell, we're ready to kick things up a notch both in terms of editorial and our premium racing form provision. In today's post, I'd like to share with you what's coming next to Geegeez Gold...

Right Now

We made a couple of very small changes yesterday to:
- include official ratings on full results
- publish the winning time on full results
- add Report Angles to the report dropdown

Here's how those all look:

 

In the next fortnight

Meanwhile, being put through its paces on test as I speak are a couple of more meaningful changes.

HCAP option on Report Angles

The first of them is the addition of a HCAP option to Report Angles. When we released Report Angles a month or so ago, the first response was 'Wow!' - after we got over a couple of teething issues, that is. The second response was, "Can you add a handicap only filter, please?".

Well, we're here to bring you the stuff you want, so yes, we heard you and I'm happy to say this will be live in the near future. It's already up on my test setup, as you can see from the below image:

We've added 'Handicap only' filters to Report Angles in line with the individual reports

We've added 'Handicap only' filters to Report Angles in line with the individual reports

 

Pace tab: enhanced focus

The second enhancement is to the Pace tab. "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king" has been our motto on this front to date. That is to say that, because nobody else is doing anything meaningful on pace (which, incidentally, is the singlemost under-rated element of form study in this country, in my view), our Pace content stands apart at making it easy to see how a race will likely pan out.

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But... it's been an irritant to me for some time that, for instance, the historical pace profile of a big field fast ground race may very well not be the same as for a small field soft ground race over the same course and distance.

So we've addressed that, by adding going and field size dropdowns to the Pace tab.

This is Chelmsford's 8.15 race tonight, a 7f contest between eight runners. As you can see from the top part of the image - with all going and all field sizes selected - it has been advantageous to be on the lead. Indeed, 21% of winners have raced that way for a profit of £34 to a £1 level stake.

But look at the bottom part, where we focus on standard going (which is most of the runs, of course) but also on a more targeted runner range of seven to ten. Now we can see that those horse which led have a 28% win rate and a £1 level stake profit of £73.71.

Hopefully you can see how this granularity will be useful. I'm very excited about sharing it!

[One caveat is that it will often produce small sample sizes. That's why we have the dropdowns so users can extend the ranges to get a more meaningful sample.]

Field size has a major bearing on run style effectiveness

Field size has a major bearing on run style effectiveness

 

**

Next six weeks or so

A little further down the line we have still more planned. I don't want to go into too much detail yet, mainly because I haven't got screenshots to show you.

But there are a couple of extra reports (class move, and SR differential) which will be interesting.

We're also looking at an Instant Expert 2.0, which will allow users to filter by Handicap/All Races, and by different time periods.

And we'll be creating some filters on the racecard menu, so you can see those races which interest you. Not interest in small field races? Only want handicaps to display? Want to exclude Irish, or UK racing? Only interested in sprints? Just want the better class stuff? You'll be able to filter by all of these things, and have your racecard menu presented to you... very soon.

Next three to six months

Looking further down the line we're working on making Geegeez Gold less prescriptive and more in line with what you want to see. We'll be enabling you to create and save angles in the Query Tool; and you'll be able to see angle qualifiers right within the racecard.

For those short on time, we're also working on a Bet Finder feature. This will identify horses running today that meet certain fixed criteria outlined by you.

Lots of exciting developments in the pipeline, and I hope they'll provide you with even more of an edge over your fellow punters.

Matt

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